In this report, TARKAA DAVID looks at the prospects of the Army University in Biu, Borno State, established recently by the Nigerian Military.
The Nigerian army has continued to receive accolades for the establishment of the Nigerian Army University, Biu aimed at impacting security operatives in the country with the requisite knowledge and skills to protect the nation in the 21st century.
Obviously, 21st century challenges require corresponding operational skills to battle them headlong. No doubt, this understanding, coupled with the overarching desire to reposition the military informed the decision to establish the Nigerian Army University.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the university is to serve as a solution centre for the technological and other operational problems of the Nigerian Army, the military and the nation at large.
Information available at the university’s website indicated that the institution is designed to create the critical mass required for research, innovation, testing and development of military equipment in a 21st century setting.
Of course, many Nigerians believe that the university will facilitate the creation of an enabling environment that will enhance the much needed development and eventual production of modern military hardware in Nigeria.
Also,the unique university, is expected to be a centre of excellence for learning, research and technological development which is consistent with the compelling requirements of 21st century armies that strive to conceive, develop and source their military platforms and other requirements locally.
The founding principles and philosophy of the university were based on the creation of an interdisciplinary learning environment, shared facilities and constant interaction among organs and units, driven by the factors of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
“The university will therefore utilise scientific and technological knowledge to develop credible and creative capacity for proffering solutions to the problems of the Nigerian Army, the military as well as the nation’’, information available at its website stated.
Working by the vision of the university which states that the university is “to become a solution centre in technology, research and development for the promotion of self-reliance, creativity and innovation in addressing national security and technological challenges”, Nigerians hope that it will be a platform for many innovations in the country.
In other to achieve these feat, the university as its mission statement specifies, needs to develop highly skilled military and civilian manpower with distinctive competence capable of providing technological solutions at short notice.
Laying the foundation of the school recently, President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the minister of education, Malam Adamu Adamu stated that the establishment of the university would be of immense benefit not only to the military but also to the country.
He said the government had adopted effective mechanisms to harness educational resources to address security, political, social and economic challenges facing the country.
“I particularly consider this event very epochal and a turning point in the annals of the Nigerian Army with regards to education, intellectual development and troop preparedness in the 21st century.
“I commend the Nigerian Army for the commencement of the university which will serve as the brain box for enhancing its responses to meet the challenges of the 21 century.
“As a government; we believe in harnessing the full potential of education, especially at the higher level, to overcome multiple challenges from corruption and challenges of insecurity,” he said.
Buhari said his administration had accorded priority to reinvigorating the education sector and approved the establishment of additional universities and institutions of higher learning in the past three years in the country.
“Since we came on board we have increased access by establishing new universities at the federal, state and private level.
“This year alone, we have established Nigerian Maritime University, Delta; Nigeria Air Force Institute, Kaduna and the Nigeria Army University, Biu.
The president noted that the government has approved the establishment of eight state and 15 private universities since it assumed office, adding that the government had also approved various degree awarding institutions in the country.
Though the university has great potentials to redefine learning in the 21st century, it is important to call to mind that there are large number of universities suffering from acute lack of funds even though they were established to achieve certain objectives for the country.
Laudable as the objectives of the varsity are, stakeholders are worried that the university is coming at a time the nation is finding it difficult to fund the existing institutions.
Academic activities in most of the nation’s public universities have always been disrupted due to strike actions which have become a yearly ritual, because of the inability of the government to meet up with the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Only recently, ASUU embarked on an indefinite strike action due to poor funding of universities.
ASUU had stated that the nationwide industrial action which the union started last week, will continue indefinitely until government fulfills its demands.
The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, had stated that it has given the government enough time to fulfill the Union’s demands, adding that its demand was all about funding and making the nation’s tertiary institutions good for learning.
However, an educationist and public commentator, Prof Khalifa Dikwa said the establishment of the university if fully executed will help the nation in addressing the lingering issue of insurgency.
Khalifa said the location of the university is strategic providing access link to neighboring states and other African nations.
He said owing to the strategic location of the university, it will help link states and other African countries within the region, adding that the university will help address issues of insurgency within the axis.
Khalifa said the university which is billed to use artificial intelligence and solar panel will adopt modern strategies to insecurity to bring a lasting solution to the crises ravaging the region.
He noted that the military ought to be Information and Communications Technology (ICT) driven powered with solar energy to be proactive ahead of criminal elements rather than reacting.
Khalifa stated that with the adoption of ICT, Nigeria’s security agencies will always be ahead of the insurgents using technology to track them before they even carry out a strike.
Also speaking, the Acting Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. David Malgwi, described the project as part of the successes recorded in the war against insurgency in the country.
Malgwi noted that the project clearly indicated government’s commitment to the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RRR) in the region that was bedeviled by insurgency.
“The university represents the future of Nigeria’s self-reliance in the area of science, technology, research and capacity building training in all fields of human endeavor through the application of modern teaching approaches to equip students with tools to live and work in the 21 century,” he said.
He said the university was billed to commence academic activities in 2018/2019 academic session in five faculties and 39 programmes, adding that admission had begun in collaboration with the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
According to the acting vice chancellor, the institute was designed to operate with 14 faculties, 113 departments and 493 programmes.
He called on the government to ensure adequate funding of the university to enable it achieve its objectives.
Malgwi also called for the rehabilitation of major high roads linking the university with adjourning communities to enhance its operations.
The roads include the Biu- Damboa-Maiduguri road, the Biu-Damaturu road, the Biu-Gombi-Yola and the Biu-Numan -Jalingo road.
Speaking on government’s preparedness in the commencement of the school programme, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. Tukur Buratai, disclosed that N2 billion was provided for the take-off of the university project.
Buratai explained that the university would stimulate the Nigerian Army’s science and Information Communication Technology (ICT) drive.
He noted that the aim of the institution was to build the capacity of the Nigerian Army to enable it to compete with other armies in the world.
“The university is designed to create the critical mass required for research, innovations, testing and development of military equipment in the 21st century setting,” he said.
The chief of army staff commended the federal government over its support to the military to enable it to discharge its duties effectively.
Obviously impressed with the initiative, Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, said establishment of the university would play a pivotal role in catapulting people of Borno and northeast region to a knowledge-driven world.
“The establishment of this University in Borno will enhance science and technology as well as promote employment. The beauty of the University is that the admission structure is 75 per cent civilians and 25 per cent military and paramilitary. The choice of Biu in locating the university is wonderful because of its strategic locations to the northeastern states.
“The government and people of Borno State will support this University in whichever way we can. I thank the chief of army staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, for his commitment to the cause of humanity,” Shettima said.
The executive secretary Centre for Crisis Communication, Commodore Yusuf Anas (rtd) said the establishment of the Nigerian Army University is a noble idea.
He said that the number of universities in the country cannot not absorb the number of students seeking admission.
Anas said the university is established to carter for the training and capacity building for officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army and other services including the paramilitary organisations.
He noted that such universities exist even in developed countries only that those in the US are tailored towards the needs of the military but the one established by the military is open to civilians and other agencies.
He, however, advised that due to lack of funding as reflected in the various conventional universities, the management should not bloat the university with faculties and departments or students in order to able to manage available resources effectively.